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10 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Print

Global efforts needed to establish ‘Internet Ombudsman’

Says information minister
UNB, Dhaka

Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday said time has come to think globally and work together on how to deal with fake news and rumours on social media platforms through establishing an 'Internet Ombudsman' as freedom of media and accountability is equally important. "We need to discuss it deeply. Together, we'll work out how the unedited platforms (social media platforms) can be brought under rules and regulations," he said adding that the government will take a decision in consultation with stakeholders in the media industry.

The Information Minister made the remark while addressing as the chief guest the Annual District Correspondents' Conference 2019 of United News of Bangladesh (UNB) at its head office in the city.

As UNB Editor-in-Chief Enayetullah Khan proposed establishing an Internet Ombudsman, the minister supported it saying there are some rules and regulations; and technologies which are not adequate to deal with rumours and fake news.

Stating that anybody can spread rumours from abroad using any ID, the Information Minister said it needs to be discussed globally when it comes to creation of an Internet Ombudsman in Bangladesh to deal with rumours and fake news on social media platforms.

He said the government wants to take Bangladesh's media

freedom to a level of Europe, continental Europe and the United Kingdom; and at the same time, the government wants to see accountability at the same level as seen in Europe and the UK.

“State, society and everybody will be benefited if we see synchronisation between media freedom and accountability,” Hasan Mahmud said.

The Information Minister said the internet has opened a wider window for all though the social media network has emerged as a big platform for spreading rumours and character assassination of anyone. “Now, Bangladesh has around 8 crore internet users which was 8 lakh in 2008.” He said the government is working to implement the 9th wage board for journalists.

UNB Chairman Amanullah Khan, former Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, Honorary Professor of its Mass Communication and Journalism Department Dr Shakhawat Ali Khan, Additional Press Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office Nazrul Islam and Deputy Head of Corporate and Compliance Affairs of Cosmos Group Rumessa Mailloux spoke at the programme. Online Editor of Channel i Zahed Newaz Khan was also present. Some 100 UNB journalists from across the country attended the conference.

Prof Arefin said as a teacher of journalism it pains him and shames him to discuss ‘fake news’ in the 21st century, even after the world had relied on the truth.

“News can’t be fake in any way as it always represents the truth. It’s the responsibility of journalists to look for truth and present it objectively and accurately,” he said.

Dr Arefin, also a professor of Dhaka University’s (DU’s) Mass Communication and Journalism department, said information is as powerful as a nuclear bomb. “So, disinformation can badly affect society, country and the entire world.”

Prof Shakhawat said, “Though social media can’t ensure authenticity, it’s fact that we’re now getting breaking news first from this platform instead of mainstream media. Under the circumstances, it’s very crucial to make social media responsible to check baseless and fake information.”

He urged the journalists not to be misguided by rumours, and to avoid filing news based on rumours. “Rather you can make stories on the reasons and sources of the rumours.”

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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